Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sagada - Day 2 - Marlboro Tour

I woke up without worries, but I was thinking that God will never late to his answer to my plea, if He wanted me to stay in Sagada, He will open doors for me to stay.

I choose to packed my things first before taking my breakfast and around 8:30am, the owner of the guest house knocked on my door and informed me that a group left early on the third floor, and if I wanted to take it for P800.00
My P800.00 Room
 I immediately agreed with him, they help me to transfer my “almost” packed things at the third floor, with full of excitement, after taking my breakfast a little chit chat with the owners, I visit the SAGGAS to have my Marlboro Tour. P600.00 for this tour (I had no someone to share with this time)

Bring water on this tour because you will be exhausted. The Trekking will take 2 – 3 hours depends on how fast you are, and me being alone with my guide received a good feedback with him, he says, that I am fast climber
En-route to Marlboro

my SAGGAS Guide
I was a bit disappointed with what I saw maybe because I had a high expectation on this tour, but I just enjoy the sun and the wind

Me - Just Enjoying the View

We went back almost 1:00pm and I decided to have my late lunch at Strawberry Café. As usual it will take you to wait for 30 – 45 minutes before the food to be served.

P70.00 Yogart
I ordered the pancakes first but then have to change it into a heavy meal which is a wrong move again, because the chicken was too blunt for my taste but I enjoyed their Yogart Shake,

One thing I noticed on this café, they are very attentive to the foreigners than to the local solo traveler, why? I noticed that when I was there, upon entering I immediately approached the counter to see the menu, the woman was so grumpy, pouting, if I am not famished that very moment I would definitely leave the place, after placing my order, I waited on my sit, then a group of locals came, the grumpy lady immediately approached them and gave the menu and offer their best sellers same like they did to the group of foreigners and other partners outside.

After my not so good lunch I headed back to the lodge and took some nap.

Evening came and this time, I decided to explore the community, as usual it was freezing cold outside, I just roam around and tried to visit the echo valley tour, but it was getting dark so I withheld my plans.

I visited the “Thrift Market” and bought 4 jackets worth P470.00 it has a good quality.
I noticed on this trip that I did nothing but to packed and unpacked hahahaha funny me, but I really had fun on this solo trip despite of many un”fortunate” things happens to me.


I went back to the lodge around 7:00pm, packed my things for early check out next day.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to get to Sagada

How to get to Sagada Mountain Province

1.) Manila-Banawe via Ohayami Bus Line, the only bus that cater on this route, one trip in a day, buses leaves at exactly 10:00pm and fare is P450.00 approximately 9 hours travel. You can sleep along the way besides no sight-seeing at night so better closed your eyes and relax while on board.
Upon Arrival in Banawe, try to Eat at People’s Lodge, Free Wifi, they have breakfast meal for P120.00 – P150.00, and someone will approach each guest and asked who will be going to Sagada. There is only one Jeep leave going to Sagada from Banawe which leaves at 8:30am, fare is P300.00 and while on road, the driver will stop on each tourist spot along the way.

2) Manila – Baguio Most traveler uses this route because of accessibility and convenience, There are a lot of buses the cater going to Baguio, but Victory Liner is the most popular, buses leaves every 30 minutes, approximately 6 -8 hours travel, from Baguio you need to ride another bus going to Sagada at Dangwa Terminal at Magsaysay, first bus trip leave at 6:00am and the last one is 1:00pm, travel hours is approximately 6 hours.

But if you are coming from Vigan, you can also take the Tagudin – Cervantes route, so if you have a lot of days and you wanted to explore the Ilocos Region and decided to visit Sagada, better try this route than Vigan – Baguio.

The Transport fare and time of travel is just the same on whichever route you will take, the difference is you can see the scenic view of Banawe if you are going to take the BANAWE Route.

Manila - Banaue - Sagada


I’ve been wanted to visit this place since I started reading travel blogs, Sagada is always on my bucket list. As much as I want to set my foot on this place finances and my work schedules forbid me, but I promised myself that 2014 as a gift for myself I will be travelling Sagada even I’m alone.
I called the Ohayami Bus 3 weeks before the trip and asked them to reserve a seat for me and will pay it a week before the date of my departure. But unfortunately, when I visited them to pay for my ticket it was fully booked and they said I had no reservation, I had no choice but to adjust my date of departure.

A month before the trip, I texted and e_mail some of my chosen accommodation but did not received any reply from them, I did not worry about it, I just thought that I just acquire it once I get there and that was the  worst move that I’ve done on this trip.

Day 1 
I was kinda excited about this trip, I will be alone and finally I can say Hello to SAGADA and say my “HI” to Banawe, I left home 1 ½ hours before my schedule trip in Sampaloc, I was surprised when I learned that most of the passengers are foreigners, you can count the Filipinos on this bus.
At 10:00pm, the bus left Manila, my seat mate is a Filipino and she’s going home to Lagawe, we had a little chit chat and when I woke up, it’s already 5:45am, I didn’t know how many bus stops we had and when did my seat mate left, my eyes was hurting because of the sunrise, but I forced myself to wake up to have a sightseeing along the way.
Arrival In Banawe
6:45am, the Ohayami bus park near the Tourism Office in Banawe, I asked some locals the exact location of Peoples Lodge to have my breakfast.

Scenic View from People's Lodge Viewpoint
Peoples Lodge offered a breakfast Meal ranges from P100.00 to P150.00, they also have free wi-fi and had a scenic view at their back and feast your eyes on this spot while waiting for your breakfast.

 The food was blunt for my taste maybe because it was too early and I don’t usually eat my breakfast at 7:00am
P120.00 Meal
Being alone in this unfamiliar territory was not really scary, why? because this is still Philippines, and people can communicate in English and Tagalog aside from their dialect, and I read in some forum and blogs that Banawe and Sagada has a low crime rate, I just observed my surroundings, smile and I didn’t  hesitate to ask some locals.

While having my breakfast, someone approach me if I am going to SAGADA, and I said yes, so he asked for P300.00 and wrote my name in a yellow pad and informed me that they will call us once we leave.

At 8:30pm, we left Banawe going to SAGADA, again, most passengers are foreigner, the jeepney will make a stopover to some Tourist Spot to take some pictures (this is the advantage of taking this route). I met a French guy, we had a good conversation while on road, together with his 2 companions they are roaming around the Philippines and he asked me if I already travelled abroad, I said NO because I wanted to explore my own country first before I go out in my neighboring country so I can boast how beautiful it is, and I don’t want to be ignorant in my native land and he agreed with me, he even asked for some recommendation where to explore because they are planning to extend their vacation here.

I met also a Filipino Priest from China and his assistant from Poland together with a soon to be priest, a native from Banawe serves as their guide, I asked them if I can tag on their sumaguing cave and agreed to divide all the expenses (sumaguing cave and van rental).
My Sumaguing Cave Companion
11:45pm Arrived in Sagada. After our registration at Tourism Office (P35.00) we get also guides and van for our activity on that afternoon. As I said, I don’t have any confirmed accommodation and I was shocked to know that all the Lodges and Inns were fully book till Monday, they can only accommodate me for a day, and I need to check out next day, after scouting 10 lodges I finally gave up and check inn at George Guest House, I immediately change my clothes, I just leave my worries about my next day accommodation, I don’t want to ruined my vacation, I just Prayed  and ask God’s favor to give me another one night in Sagada.

And now… Let me take you inside Sumaguing cave…

 The tour guide will give a briefing about the caving and will tell you the do’s and don’ts so listened very carefully.

The cave was quite slippery, I know I had no practice on this activity but I just keep on praying for God’s protection upon us, Our light from the Lamp died when we reached the Curtains, and so, my companion from Poland doesn’t want to continue, but the Priest encourage me to go on and they will just wait for me and I nodded and I didn’t regret because I wouldn’t be able to see this one.

The Caving was very tiring and we are all famished the moment we went back to the “light” ;)
Going up is much easier than going down, the cave was been packed when we headed back to our entry point. We bought food to feed our stomach and relax our sore feet before we proceeded on our next destination, our other companion bid his goodbye to us because he need to catch the last Jeepney back to Bontoc.

I didn’t bother to climbed down because my feet is already shaking and I’m not sure if I still can make it to go back if I dare to climbed down, so I just took some shot from above.

Last Destination..
I really don’t have a good shot on those hanging coffin so I just waited for my two companions.

We shared 267.00 each (for 3 person) for this activity and as we parted ways, the priest says something like this “Ella, if you will encounter some problems or troubles, don’t hesitate to go with us, you know where we are staying right?, I said “Yes po, thank you!” (po, means giving respect) See, God gave me good people on this trip.

I run to the guesthouse and took a quick bath, the heater was not working properly so I just suffer from the freezing  water  L

At that moment, I was thanking God for giving me such people like them and gave me a safe trip from Manila to Sagada and for giving me strength to finish my “extreme activity” (for me!) on that day and again for providing even a one night accommodation and pleaded again to give me another one night.

The Guesthouse provide a free wi-fi and good thing the signal in my room is good, I scouted some accommodation in Baguio but unfortunately it was also fully booked because of the long Holiday and the forthcoming festival, as I mentioned, I don’t want to worry that much, after a few calls and negative feedback accommodation in Baguio, I took a little nap and pray.

At 5:30pm I decided to have my early dinner at Salt and Pepper
Salt and Pepper - P280.00 Meal (Missed it already)
 And because my whole body is aching and the temperature was getting cold I ended up getting back to my room and rest instead of roaming around the community, I packed my things again and prepared myself for check out next day, but I was hoping for an opportunity and that I leave it to God.

Lesson Learn No 1. Make an advance reservation for you accommodation and make sure you call them not text or e_mail to confirm your permanent home. J because as I inquire some locals there that SAGADA right now is one of the most visited place in North.

Lesson Learn No 2. Do not panic, just pray to God to give you peace of mind and wisdom on what to do. Panic will not relieve the situation, it will just ruin everything as the
Proverbs 6:3 “Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and he shall direct your path” and Another Verse is “Commit to the Lord all and all your plans will succeed”